President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed imposed an Emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution due to the prevailing “internal disturbance”. The Emergency, which is regarded as the darkest phase of independent India, remained in force June 25, 1975, until its withdrawal on March 21, 1977.
During this period, the Congress regime ordered a crackdown on civil liberties, suppressed dissenting voices, jailed all top opposition leaders, censured the freedom of speech and committed severe human rights violations.
What led to the imposition of Emergency?
On June 12, 1975, Allahabad High Court convicted Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices and debarring her from holding any elected post. This verdict had a far-reaching consequence and is believed to be one of the reasons that led to the imposition of the Emergency.
In the 1971 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, Indira Gandhi had defeated socialist leader Raj Narain. Narain later challenged India Gandhi’s election alleging electoral malpractices and violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The socialist leader alleged that her election agent Yashpal Kapoor was a government servant and that she used government officials for personal election-related work. The Allahabad High Court convicted Indira Gandhi of electoral malpractices and disqualified her from Parliament and imposed a six-year ban on her holding any elected post.
Just a day after the Allahabad High Court verdict, Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency by suspending all fundamental rights, ordering a crackdown on all opposition leaders and imposing curbs on the media.
Gandhi lifted Emergency in 1977 and called for Lok Sabha elections in which the Congress was handed a crushing defeat, its first-ever since the country’s Independence in 1947, by the combined opposition of the Janata Party.
On the 46th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said those “dark days” can never be forgotten and called for taking a pledge to strengthen India’s democratic spirit and live up to the values enshrined in the Constitution.
“This is how Congress trampled over our democratic ethos. We remember all those greats who resisted the Emergency and protected Indian democracy,” he tweeted while sharing a link about several draconian measures taken by the then Congress government.
“The dark days of Emergency can never be forgotten. The period from 1975 to 1977 witnessed systematic destruction of institutions. Let us pledge to do everything possible to strengthen India’s democratic spirit, and live up to the values enshrined in our Constitution.” he said.
Other senior BJP leaders also hit out at the Congress with Home Minister Amit Shah saying he Congress “murdered” democracy on this day in 1975 for its lust and arrogance of power.
Emergency was imposed to trample on voices that were raised against a family, he said, calling it a dark chapter in India’s democracy. BJP president J P Nadda paid tributes to those who fought against the Emergency while suffering numerous atrocities.